National Newswatch

The big files save Trudeau from a sophomore slump

Apr 18 2017 — Lawrence Martin — After a first year in which Justin Trudeau’s Liberals gained a lot of plaudits, the consensus was that Year Two would be more difficult. Tough hurdles awaited them. How would they deliver on pipelines and, at the same time, climate change? Carbon taxes were opposed on the right, pipelines stirred protests on the left. How […]

Trudeau – a fine communicator, a faltering democrat

Mar 28 2017 — Lawrence Martin — The House of Commons is on yet another break. It’s on break almost half the year. Before the latest one, I stopped in at Question Period to catch the Conservatives mopping the floor with the Liberals over their proposal to reduce the Prime Minister’s appearances at QP to one a week. A nice break from […]

Tory race down to three – and that’s the way it will stay

Mar 15 2017 — Lawrence Martin — The 14-person race for the Conservative leadership is down to three: Maxime Bernier, Kevin O’Leary, and Andrew Scheer. Insiders tell you this, polls tell you this – and there’s another thing. It’s the format of the leadership campaign. The process serves to make it a low-key affair from start to finish. Leading candidates will remain […]

In search of a hot issue, Conservatives come up cold

Mar 7 2017 — Lawrence Martin — Seeking an issue that connects, the Conservative Party is again focusing on taxation. Carbon taxes have got to go, cry Tory taxophobes in the leadership debates. In the overflow field of 14, Michael Chong is the sole exception. He is booed lustily at every debate. But if he faced a cross-section of the country, Mr. […]

Chrystia Freeland’s Kremlin ban is a badge of honour

Feb 22 2017 — Lawrence Martin — Our Foreign Affairs Minister, Chrystia Freeland, will not be sitting down for borscht and blini in Russia any time soon. Maybe never. She holds a rare ministerial distinction. She’s banned from that land. She was blacklisted three years ago, along with 12 other Canadians, in retaliation for sanctions imposed in response to Russian aggression in […]

Tories playing a high-risk leadership game – again

Feb 15 2017 — Lawrence Martin — One of the most painful embarrassments in the history of the Conservative Party, currently in the middle of a pivotal leadership campaign, occurred in December, 1979. That was when Joe Clark’s minority government blundered – or so we thought – its way to defeat after only seven months in power. It lost a confidence vote […]

For Trudeau, old politics won’t cut it

Feb 8 2017 — Lawrence Martin — So where, in the pantheon of leaders abandoning their pledges, should we rank Justin Trudeau’s shattered promise on electoral reform? He’s got a lot of good company on this kind of thing, as he has with leaders who vacation on yachts in lieu of tugboats. Is that a problem, that he’s like others? On promise […]

Trudeau will pay the price if he wavers on Trump

Feb 1 2017 — Lawrence Martin — Exaggerators, overreactors, alarmists, wolf criers. They make up the ascendant, paranoid right in politics. Canadians, by contrast, show an opposite lean. We’re more inclined to equanimity, seeing things in the round. It’s one of our finer qualities and it was manifest following Donald Trump’s action against Muslims and refugees, as well as the Quebec murders […]

The Trump effect: Conservatives play the waiting game

Jan 25 2017 — Lawrence Martin — ‘That’s not a voice we welcome in this party.” That was Rona Ambrose, Conservative Party interim leader, speaking of Donald Trump 13 months ago. Like so many others, she could not, back then, imagine him becoming the Republican nominee, much less U.S. President. Following Mr. Trump’s clenched-fist inaugural address last week, there was a noticeable […]

For the old Tories, a final call to arms

Jan 18 2017 — Lawrence Martin — Remember the old Progressive Conservatives? In this era of raw populism, the name sounds quaint. But of course it was progressive Tories who spearheaded the party from the days of John A. Macdonald right up until Stephen Harper, right up until hard-edged conservatives devoured them like cupcakes. Old Tories went underground. They cowered under Mr. […]

Cabinet shuffle: Why an overhaul was needed

Jan 10 2017 — Lawrence Martin — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet remake adds more youth, drops more aging white men and brings to the Liberal forefront a new little guy from Shawinigan. The shuffle provides under-performing ministries with some much needed reupholstering. Or so it is hoped. And it readies the Trudeau team – or so it is hoped – for […]

Year 150: Will it bring fortune or folly?

Dec 28 2016 — Lawrence Martin — A trio of big developments head up the 2017 political calendar, not the least of which is the election of new leaders for our two major opposition parties. There’s a considerable irony here. The Conservatives and the New Democrats already have their best pilots in place. But interim Tory leader Rona Ambrose isn’t running and […]

For Trudeau, a sour ending to a year of progress

Dec 21 2016 — Lawrence Martin — In the past few weeks, the Liberals of Justin Trudeau have gone from skywalkers to stumblebums. They’ve strikingly mismanaged issues such as their fundraising ethics and a new electoral system, serving themselves up as punching bags for the media and opposition critics. But a few weeks do not a year make. If the work of […]